David Ojeda All posts

Can't stop playing

· Reading time: 2 min

I had a femur fracture at the age of six, just one day before my kindergarten graduation event, and I had to lie in bed with a plaster cast for an entire summer. For close to three months, I couldn't go outside to play, to run, to be a kid.

But I could play videogames. And that's what I did.

I don't have recollection of being a good player at that age, I probably wasn't, but I like to think that I was, and that I actually found all shortcuts of Mario Kart in the Nintendo 64. In reality, maybe it was my brothers' playing and I had a disconnected controller in my hands that whole time.

But go figure.

I've been playing videogames since I can remember. By the time I could hold on to a controller, I had a huge inheritance from my older brothers already in place; all of their consoles and games.

Some of my most fond memories of my childhood involve playing videogames with one of my brothers, watching him beat other random strangers on the internet at StarCraft; or bringing three TVs and three Xboxes to my house to do a LAN party of Gears of War until sunrise with my friends; or even just me playing alone in my room, trying to find where I needed to go in Zelda's Ocarina of Time by using a physical Spanish-English dictionary.

My point is, since then, playing videogames has been a part of me, of my personality. To some extent, it describes a huge part of me.

I constantly joke about, in a not-so-joking way, that I'll consider myself old only when my younger siblings can beat me at any videogame. I'm in my 30s while writing this, and that hasn't happened yet.

The problem is, I do consider this an addiction now.

If I stay away from gaming for too long, I feel anxious. I feel I'm missing something. And this is only true for competitive games.

I need to show to some random stranger on the internet that I can beat them at Overwatch. I need to showcase those hard-earned skills. If I don't do it, if I can't beat them, am I still me?

Having spent that much time playing videogames, internalizing them as part of my identity, the moment I stop spending that time doing it, it throws me into flux.

Some say that people never actually stops being addicted to something, they just replace one addiction with another. From alcoholic to hardcore rock-climber; from smoker to Iron Man runner; from hardcore competitive gamer to... what?

Well, here's what I'm trying.

I'm now dedicating the time I used to spend on video games to various activities that complement gaming, without completely giving it up.

Instead of spending 15 hours a week on video games, I might only play four now, and spread the rest between playing pádel, exercising, learning Portuguese, reading, and writing more.